Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 719–730 | Cite as

Anesthesia induces stress in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus)

  • Inger Hilde Zahl
  • Anders Kiessling
  • Ole Bent Samuelsen
  • Rolf Erik Olsen


Stress in response to anesthesia with benzocaine, MS-222, metomidate and isoeugenol was studied in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus), and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) with no concomitant stress from handling or confinement in association with anesthesia or sampling. All of the anesthetics tested induced a stress response in all species, displayed by a release of cortisol to the water. MS-222 anesthesia elicited the highest cortisol release rates, reaching maximum levels 0.5 h post-exposure and returning to basal levels after 3–4 h. Benzocaine anesthesia caused a bimodal response where the initial peak in cortisol release rate was followed by a second increase lasting towards the end of the trial (6 h). This bimodality was more profound in Atlantic salmon than in Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod. Metomidate anesthesia induced the lowest release of cortisol of the agents tested in both Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod, but resulted in a bimodal response in Atlantic salmon where the initial increase in cortisol release was followed by a larger increase peaking at 2–2.5 h post exposure before returning to basal levels after 5 h. The stress induced in Atlantic salmon by isoeugenol anesthesia resembled that of MS-222, but did not reach the same elevated level. Overall, the cortisol release was most profound in Atlantic salmon followed by Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod.


Anesthesia Stress Cortisol MS-222 Benzocaine Metomidate Isoeugenol 



The authors would like to thank the staff of the Institute of Marine Research, and in particular Ivar Helge Matre and Rina Helen Skoglund for their valuable technical assistance, and Grethe Thorsheim for skilful help and support with water sample processing and analysis. Ole Folkedal and Thomas Torgersen are highly acknowledged for proficient support in calculating cortisol release rates. Financial support was given by the Norwegian Research Council, grant no. 152898/120.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inger Hilde Zahl
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anders Kiessling
    • 2
    • 4
  • Ole Bent Samuelsen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Rolf Erik Olsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Marine ResearchBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of Animal and Aquacultural SciencesNorwegian University of Life SciencesAasNorway
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  4. 4.Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental StudiesSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden

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